A solid majority of Americans (58%) say their sympathies lie with the Israelis and only 20% say their sympathies are more with the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority, according to Gallup's annual World Affairs survey. Americans' sympathy towards Israel is holding at the same levels as in 2005 and 2006.

A comparison between Gallup polls conducted in the 1990s and those conducted since 2000 shows that the average level of sympathy for Israelis has risen, long term, from 41% to 53%, while the average sympathy for the Arab side of the conflict rose from 13% to 16%. The question posed was simply, "In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?"

Gallup's experts explain the results as "clearly" showing that "as Americans have moved out of the 'no preference' columns (on the Israeli-Arab issue), they have moved disproportionately into the pro-Israeli column."

Public preferences for Israelis in last year's February 2006 survey were at their highest since the 1991 Gulf War  a survey that showed a slight dip in sympathies toward the Palestinian Authority. The recent shifts may be attributed to the events preceding them, namely Ariel Sharon's hospitalization and Hamas' election victory.

The same general pattern is seen in a separate set of questions asking Americans to give their opinions of various countries. The total percentage of Americans viewing Israel favorably fell slightly between 2006 and 2007 - from 68% to 63% - while favorable views of "Palestine," as the Palestinian Authority was presented in the poll, increased slightly, from 11% to 16%. However, between the two, Israel enjoys the much more positive image in the United States.

Americans are more pro-Israeli in their views today than they were 10 and 20 years ago, but, they are also more polarized generally. Today, a combined 78% of Americans favor one side or the other, while the remaining 22% express no partiality. Fourteen years ago, 43% of Americans had no preference in the dispute.

BBC Releases Partial Information on Poll: Israel Deemed "Very Negative"

Meanwhile, a BBC World Service poll shows that a majority of people in 27 countries believes that Israel and Iran lead the list of countries seen as having a "mainly negative influence" in the world. The BBC staff did not disclose which countries were on the list and how many of them were Arab. The BBC admitted that Israel was most unpopular in Arab countries.

Israel and Iran, each of which received a 56% negative rating in the BBC survey, are closely followed by the United States (51%) and North Korea (48%).

The poll asked 28,000 respondents in 27 countries to rate a dozen countries, as well as the European Union, in terms of whether they have a positive or negative influence. Canada, Japan and the EU are viewed most positively in the survey.